Cold sores are a real drag. They are not only uncomfortable, itchy, and sometimes painful, but they can be embarrassing. They can be hard to cover, and you definitely don’t want to have your photo taken at this weekend’s party with a big ol’ cold sore outbreak all over your lips.
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex 1 virus, which is a lifelong virus once you catch it. HSV-1 mainly causes oral herpes, but can also cause genital herpes, though not nearly as common. HSV-1 is caused by oral-to-oral contact.
HSV-2, or Herpes Simplex 2, is the sexually transmitted kind, which causes genital warts. The two are NOT the same. According to Healthline, about 90% of adults across the globe have the virus that causes cold sores. However, though some people have it, they might not have symptoms, which include painful cold sores.
HSV-1 has several triggers that causes outbreaks, such as stress, a weakened immune system, hormones fluctuations, fevers, and being out in the sun.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent and shorten the time an outbreak lasts. Here are nine ways to keep your cold sore symptoms at bay.
Lysine is an amino acid that is commonly recommended when someone feels the first tingle of a cold sore coming on. Studies have shown that Lysine does help shorten the amount of time an outbreak lasts for, and helps with preventing them when the supplements are taken regularly.
2. Yoga and Meditation
Stress is a trigger for cold sores, and turning to stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and deep breathing can also help curb breakouts.
Holding an ice cube or ice pack to the cold sore can help with swelling and pain. Cold sores can be really painful, especially if you pick at it. Turn to ice for temporary relief.
4. Aloe Vera
Studies have found that there is a connection between the effects of putting natural aloe vera gel on genital herpes, and can aid in helping the lesions and blisters heal. The same science in applied to HSV-1 here, where putting some gel on a cotton swab and putting it on the cold sore may help heal it
5. Vanilla Extract
This sweet remedy is actually a home remedy that many people swear by. The reason is because pure, good vanilla extract isalcohol-based, which makes it hard for the virus to thrive. It has been said that using vanilla on a cotton swab or pad and applying it to the cold sore can help shorten the amount of time you have the outbreak, especially if you use the extract as soon as you feel the tingling coming on.
6. Whole Milk
Whole milk can also be used because milk has little proteins called immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that have the power to fight off infections. Milk also contains L-lysine, which can help with preventing and helping with the severity of outbreaks. Either drink a glass of whole milk or douse a cotton pad in whole milk and apply it to your cold sore.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide
Good ol’ HP disinfects and helps heal your cold sore. You know as a kid your mom would swab out your scrapes and cuts and, though it would burn like sh*t and bubble up, it did help the wound heal. Douse a cotton pad with some HP and put it on your cold sore. You can thank me later.
Because cold sores can be triggered by a weakened immune system, Echinaceacan help keep you healthy and your immune system boosted up. Taking Echinacea daily, or drinking Echinacea tea, can help prevent or shorten the duration of outbreaks.
9. Vitamin C
Again, vitamin C is a great immune booster. Vitamin C helps your body fight off infection, so eating vitamin-rich foods or taking a vitamin C supplement daily can help prevent outbreaks or make the infection less severe if you do have an outbreak.